Have you heard of GoldieBlox? It’s a toy based on one company’s hope to attract girls to the field of engineering. Recently, many toy companies have been getting a lot of pressure to make toys more gender neutral. Why are the mini kitchens always pastel and the Lego men always the police officers and doctors? These stereotypes are slowly changing as more and more people join the conversation. But is that enough to break down the barriers? GoldieBlox takes it even a step further. Instead of focusing on the colors of the toys, the company has decided to target girls specifically, to introduce them early on to the world of engineering.
PS. The Beastie Boys apparently did not like the use of their soundtrack for this commercial. It’s hard to find online now, hence the version with subtitles. I LOVE this commercial!
At GoldieBlox, our goal is to get girls building. We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.
In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered “boys’ toys”. By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.
We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.
Go to http://www.goldieblox.com to see it all.
Even as a grown woman, I still find myself struggling with being my authentic self and ignoring the inner voice that tells me to follow social norms.
Please watch this video. In it, the young poet, Lily, paints an honest picture of the elephant in the room. We owe it to the girls who will follow us in to adulthood to start the conversation and begin to change within, now.
They say that life never turns out how you expect it to. That’s neither a good or a bad thing. It’s just a fact. Life is unpredictable. And it’s how we respond to the things that happen to us that makes up who we are.
In 1984, in the little, sleepy town of Washington, Pennsylvania, the pre-school that I went to had someone film the moments throughout our year and put them to VHS. My school was ahead of their time and the fact that I have a 60 minute video of snippets from my first school year is incredible and I am more grateful than ever to have that to look back on.
What strikes me today, however, when thinking about that video, is not that it shows the first inkling of the person I would grow up to be. It shows the beginnings of the relationship I would have with my mom. Time and time again, my mom appears in the video. There she is volunteering for my Halloween party (albeit holding up my custom-made Tweety Bird head on the costume I insisted should be the plastic K-Mart Barbie Doll costume she wouldn’t let me wear). And again, at Christmas, sitting in the front row of the audience during my recital wearing the red sweater with soft white fuzzy snowflakes I loved. On Mother’s Day, in the video, she’s there yet again, accepting my macaroni necklace with excitement, which she wore the rest of the day.
That video has helped me cherish some of my first memories of her. When we moved to Virginia, she stayed ever-present in my life. I’ve got pictures with her from every Girl Scout ceremony, Mother-Daughter dances, and school plays. And when I started running around the age of 8, I can’t remember a race that she wasn’t there for, cheering me on at the finish line. She shopped with me and we painted my room a different color nearly every summer, based on my whims.
I crashed in to my teenage years like a brick wall. My mom didn’t like me, but I always knew she loved me. It’s got to be hard to understand someone who doesn’t understand themselves. Still, she continually supported me, no matter how much we were at odds. My mom was there when I graduated high-school and spent the next four years traveling across the state to “pop in” and visit while I was at James Madison.
On my graduation day, my mom, always a bit morose (sorry mom, you know it’s true), said that God could take her now if it was his will, because all she ever wanted to was to see my graduate from college. I got a good job and bought a house. I thought at that time, I was on my own path.
In hindsight, I was on someone else’s proverbial path and just going through the motions of what I thought was the natural next step. I married the boy I dated in college and expected life to start right then, just as envisioned.
When my choice in profession proved an unnatural fit for my energy, my mom was right there, coaching me through it. We developed a relationship in which she didn’t have the answers anymore and I didn’t expect her to. I just had her as my friend.
Despite every effort, when my marriage didn’t work, I can remember breaking down in hysterics only to have my mom tell me that I have to live my life for me and no one else. Even though she and my father have been married for over 40 years, she supported my decision and helped me find clarity in a sad time.
More years passed and she still shows up at my marathons and triathlons. She adopted my dog, Taylor, as her grand-dog. My mom has celebrated the successes I’ve experienced in my career and has become and active participant in some of the things I do for work.
We crumbled together when her mother, my Nana, passed away in 2012. I have never felt closer to her. And soon after, when Taylor died, she got in the car and drove 100 miles through the mountains, to be there with me at the vet. She spent the next two days with me, not needing to say anything, but just being there through my constant outbursts of tears.
I came to a big realization at that point. Life is never going to be as expected. It’s impossible to know what is going to happen next. And that’s terrifying but really beautiful. I do know that what we can control is how we love those that love us.
In October, during my mother’s routine mammogram, doctors found cancer. We are lucky and blessed that it was detected very early and after today’s surgery, she is expected to have a full recovery. But my heart is still in knots this morning. This experience is another eye-opening reminder that we all have to live life in the moment. The past is okay to reflect upon but we can’t let that stop us from living right now and the future is incredibly unpredictable.
I feel exposed by this morning’s post but it’s a part of my here and now. I think the best way to shape the future is to live honestly in the present. My mom is going to be okay in the long-run, although that only eases the tension of the moment a little. What I do absolutely know is that I choose to remember the bright spots from the past. I choose to love with everything I’ve got and I choose to accept that life is imperfect and really remarkable.
Thank you, Mom.
It’s 2013 and we’ve come a long way with recognizing that gender stereotypes but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Discrimination often happens subtly today. Women are faced with different challenges than the ones their mothers and the women before them faced.
Women hold jobs and have families. They share responsibilities of home life with their significant others. Men cook. These are all normal things to many of us. But the quiet pressure is still there that keeps us fighting the same old stereotypes that our grandmothers did.
When a man puts in extra hours at work, he is seen as taking responsibility for his family. In many cases, when a women does this, she is seen as neglecting hers. It’s never questioned when a man conveys his authority, but a woman runs the risk of being perceived as bossy instead of authoritative. Does this happen in every workplace? Absolutely not. I believe that women have more opportunities than before thanks to the men and women who believed in equality and fought for it in decades past. But I also see the little things that we do on a daily basis that holds us back.
Patene–yes, the hair care company–launched a commercial to join the conversation on labels and gender biases. It’s beautiful and moving. In the end, they’re still trying to sell shampoo, I know, but give credit when credit is due. Pantene is using their large platform to speak to a very large audience about something significant. Like the Dove campaign on real beauty, Pantene is calling attention to the stereotypes that exist right now.
I wrote about this exact thing earlier this year. This commercial, this subject and this challenge we face touches me deeply. I hope it will continue the conversation.
August, 14, 2013 Blog Post
Why is it that when a little boy comes in with a tie and acts in charge he is seen as a future boss but in the same situation, a little girl who delegates and directs is more often described as bossy? Manners have taught us that we should listen to our elders. And when we emulate them, it’s natural for little boys to emulate traditional male roles. The same manners have taught us that girls should be polite, accommodating and compassionate. It is our job to “care” for others while often the focus for males is to lead.
Both sexes have a lot of natural and genetic tendencies and compassion still is something that girls should work towards–it’s something everyone could work more for. But we are in a new world and the lines between the roles of men and women have been blurred. Change starts on a very small level and even the most minute detail can affect someone’s life for years to come.
I can remember the first time I was called bossy. Gasp, yes me (I know it’s hard to imagine). I was ten and trying to create the rules for our neighborhood game of hide and seek at dusk. There was a group of 9 or 10 of us kids and a few parents. We were on the back porch of my girlfriends house, trying to get the game together. My friend’s mother laughed and said that I was born to be bossy. I stopped contributing. My friend, Brett, took the lead and laid out the rules. The mother didn’t call him anything.
These perceptions have been built up for a long time. My friend’s mom was not wrong, she was following the norm. But I wonder today how different my path would have been if I had always been encouraged to lead, the same as my male counter-parts. We can change the boundaries that girls will face by changing the way we think about male and female roles. I challenge you to think before you describe anyone. If every detail were the same, but that person was the opposite sex, would you describe them differently?
I can remember the first time I really felt ugly. I was in fifth grade and preparing for a talent show with 5 of my friends. We were practicing our dance to Run Around Sue (another possible issue now that I think about it). I had been practicing the part that meant I would be in the front and one of the girls in my group suggested that I switch with another because I was a little “too chunky” to be up front. To be perfectly honest, I was a string-bean in elementary school. And beyond that, none of the girls I was dancing with looked much different from me. I was crushed…and it stuck with me.
Over 20 years later, I think about that first moment and do my best to teach what I know now about how hard we as females are on ourselves and each other to my little sister, Grace. She and I have been together (Big Brothers Big Sisters) for going on 7 years now. But on the same days I spend time supporting her and letting her know how beautiful she is, I often catch myself using that same negative self speak on myself.
A friend of mine posted the video from Dove’s Real Beauty campaign in which a forensic artist created sketches of women based on their own accounts of themselves. Earlier in the day, the women were introduced to another group of women and were told to get to know one another. After the first set of “self-described” sketches were done, the second set of women were brought in to describe the women (the ones who had just described themselves for the forensic sketch artist).
The results? The self-described sketches of the women were far less accurate than the ones described by others. Dove concludes that “women are their own worst beauty critics” and that “only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.”
I don’t believe this phenomenon is limited to females only, but I can relate to the pressures we put on ourselves because of how we think others perceive us and in return, we project that on others.
“I think there’s kind of a stigma around the word beautiful,” says Melinda, one of the women from the Dove study. Even though many of us have grown up and are now trying to teach girls to feel beautiful in their own skin, we’ve got to remember that supporting each other, every day, can make a remarkable difference. Words matter.
Watch the Dove video on “real beauty” here: